tv Today in Washington CSPAN November 30, 2012 6:00am-9:00am EST
senator cardin. >> i would like my entire statement to be included in the record. thank you so much not just for convening this hearing but for your leadership in dealing with these issues not only in responding to the needs of the communities and individuals who are impacted by these winter events but your leadership directing this committee to look at ways in which we can make our communities less vulnerable. sandy was a devastating storm. many lives were lost as a result of the storm bond seven in my state of maryland. eight billion people on the east coast of the united states at some time were without power at the results of sandy. maryland fare much better than our surrounding states. we sent a lot of our resources to help our friends in new york and new jersey and other states that were impacted, but it was the severe storm for the people
in maryland. the high sustained winds were unprecedented in our state. 70 mile an hour winds, hour upon hour upon hour, doing incredible damage to our state. heavy rains. we had record number amount of rains, nine inches in the coastal area. that caused extreme coastal flooding, storm surges worked severe, waves were as high as seven feet. i want to talk specifically about the 2 regions of our state in which people are still trying to recover from the severity of the storm. one is western maryland. we were experiencing nine inches of rain on the east coast of maryland, western part of our state had this blizzard that occurred that dumped 30 inches of wet snow. one county, garrett county, the
garrett county is the county located in achalasia, somewhat remote in the mountains, total population of 30,000 people. fifteen thousand homes were without power. doolittle arithmetic, that is every home in that county. 3,000 trees were down in the county as a result of the storm. people living in remote areas, not easy to get to, without power, extremely vulnerable to their public safety. maryland voted that maryland national guard stop priority, 26, these worked to save lives and did an incredible job. we are very grateful for their heroic activities in saving lives and trying to bring people into a more normal existence. at the other end of my state on the eastern shore of maryland they supported different type of
damage as a result. the eastern shore is pretty flat, pretty much at sea level. when a storm like sandy approach because severe flooding. in somerset county, the people of chrisfield were severely impacted by the loss of their homes, businesses, agricultural crops were ruined and this is a very vulnerable community, 32% of people live below poverty. they don't have a lot of options. they don't have the resources to be able to take care of their needs without the assistance of government and i am proud of leadership of our state in trying to help those individuals, the entire team that worked on this. you are familiar with worcester county, 9.8% of a population below poverty and they have twice the number on average of elderly that we have in our
state, they were particularly impacted by this storm. thanks to the extraordinary leadership of governor o'malley, our maryland emergency management agency and the partnership they brought in including our state, local officials, we had extraordinary leadership from county executives, maryland national guard, i was with them throughout the storm. they deployed people where they were needed and they worked around the clock and save lives. i want to thank the red cross. they were there helping us as soon as we were stabilized and moved on, could use their resources. we saw extraordinary efforts by our first responders and ordinary citizens to help save lives. we had evacuation is in hartford county and baltimore county and baltimore city people were evacuated from their homes.
41 shoulders were established. the bottom line is we can't -- we want to underscore the point that senator carper made. we came together for communities impacted by the events and use federal government and resources to bring communities back to where they need to be. we were very much in tune, disasters happened in all parts of the country, to be a good neighbor and we need help today. i want to thank president obama for the disaster declaration for maryland. that allows fema to be available for public assistance. we have a request for individual disaster assistance for the individuals who are impacted. that proposal is pending. i will be working to make sure individuals have been impacted by the storm, have a strong partner from the federal
government as we can possibly have. i think it is going to be highly likely we will have to have supplemental emergency appropriation bill. that is not in this committee but i do point out we have to make sure resources are available and congress will shortly be adjourning and i hope we will pay attention to that during this session of congress to make sure the federal agencies have the resources they need to be able to deal with the consequences of hurricane sandy. from this committee's point of view we need to look at the environmental impact. there have been numerous oil spills having an impact on our environment. we had major problems on our shorelines and we need to take a look at shoreline restoration and other issues. we need to be prepared to deal with those issues. as the chairman pointed out we need to deal with the funding of
storm infrastructure. you are right, our first obligation is to make sure people who are affected and communities that are affected we do what we can to bring them back where they need to be. we also need to deal with public safety issues because these events will be occurring more frequently in the future. invested -- the beaches have been replenished. it acts as a natural storm break to ocean city in which there are lots of people who live, have homes, etc.. it worked. it prevented a lot more damage that would otherwise have occurred. it is an investment. we make those investments to save lives and property and it did work. i will be coming back to tell you we need to invest and
common-sense ways we can deal with the realities, we also need water resources development act, a water bill, you had a hearing on that. we need to move that forward. that provides areas we can help with necessary infrastructure deal with flooding and storm damage. i introduced the water infrastructure resiliency sustainability act to provide funding for communities like reducing flood in vulnerable communities. that deals with those communities that have sea level issues, sea level is rising and we have to deal with that in the ways we provide support to our local communities. as i said before our first priority is to help the affected communities and individuals and make sure they get the help they need and we commit to the problem, frequency of the severe storms and we can bill afford to
neglect the safety posed by these storms, long-term safety must be our focus if we are to protect the natural environment and the save the of our citizens. >> i want to say while senator vitter is still here we discussed bringing the bill forward within the first thirty days. that is our goal. we are going to work and have been working on it so that we don't waste any time given what we have seen and it is -- we will have a strong partnership on that. so we're going to go to senator lautenberg, then senator whitehouse, then senator gillibrand. >> thank you. the fact the we are bringing notice about our particular
storm situation, across this country there is no state's third. the more we get the word out and cooperate one with another, the senate and congress, better chance we have, damage resulting from these storms and making life easier, better and safer. i have spoken on this before, the committee outlined in new jersey brought on by superstorm sandy. the human toll of the storm this defies description. eight million households throughout the region lost power during the storm including 2.5 billion in my state alone. y estimates the vulnerability damage at nearly 72,000,
storefronts and offices, public buildings, pretty hard to imagine what life is like when your home is gone. is not simply physical positions but the memories, the memorabilia, the history of the house. these things disappearing in front of you, representing dreams and aspirations, reduced to rubble. imagine having to evacuate, to find nothing there. the place where you raised your children, created so many memories, gone. that is the reality for many. as we move forward, we must make sure the next storm that strikes this doesn't happen again. madam chairman, thank you for
your leadership on this issue but we know that none of us is save and we learned a valuable lesson from this storm. we landed the hardest way. when we don't invest in infrastructure we leave our communities and residents in great danger and that is why in the wake of this storm we're not only working to recover but to build stronger so we are better prepared for the next storm. i would like to take the opportunity to highlight four areas that were vulnerable and we got to rebuild stronger. flood control projects, water infrastructure, transportation system and super sites that new jersey has the largest number but the problem is huge.
storm surge ruined businesses and displaced families and even among the damage there is a silver lining that points to what we do to devote resources into the future, so simple, beach and do replenishment. we have been chided about that over the years. just so you have more comfortable beaches. this is part of nature's balance and when the dunes are in place the damage is substantially less. quite an awakening. in many towns across the country the federal government has invested money in other infrastructure to protect against storms and flooding. in new jersey the pieces are levees. they act as critical buckers zones that protect our communities from flooding and
beach replenishment project, sand is brought in to widen existinges and strengthen dunes in order to provide better protection against storm surges. up and down the jersey coast, we saw that homes that were behind beaches or dunes that had to build up by the army corps, replenishment projects were still standing after the storm, even nearby homes were totally destroyed and we see the stark contrast on barrier islands, that we have in new jersey and long beach island and long beach island community which didn't have an army corps project. homes were destroyed. we see one of these homes in this picture. without the army corps projects, when you look at that picture,
this image, thank you, homes that were shielded by beach products in grand beach, the barrier island, another community, long beach island, see how well they withstood the storm? here is where the storm lost its fury, much lower than the houses were located. the picture shows how the do and was constructed so it could absorb the storm's force, protect the homes and the neighborhood behind it. overall new jersey's initial estimate that damage to the entire state is at least $29 billion. the cost is expected to rise and our governor who did a good job took advantage of this crisis,
brought in additional costs that they are still uncovering so it will be higher. we could have avoided some of that damage we have invested, army corps beach projects protect taxpayers by preventing that storm damage that fema is paying to clean up so i am pleased that the bill included what i requested to allow new projects to be constructed following a natural disaster and i intend to work with the chairman to rebuild damaged beaches better than they were before a supposed to the current practice of merely repairing or rehabilitating projects to pre storm conditions.
during sandy, we saw outdated water infrastructure at two new jersey -- wastewater facilities releasing billions of gallons of sewage in the river as a result. the infrastructure in its entire eddie has to be in concert with what we now know and can do in advance of these tragedies and although the sewage has been contained, the fact that this breach happened in the first place shows the vulnerability of our infrastructure and the urgent need to rebuild better and stronger. the entire country's water infrastructure in bad need of improvement and repair, must get a significant investment moving forward.
our transportation network suffered unprecedented damage as well. highways, roads, this storm covered everything, littered with debris, the holland tunnel carries thousands of vehicles from new jersey to new york city, was flooded. computation is an important part of the economy and culture in that region. the damage to our highways, transit system caused severe congestion stranding new jersey and creating delays for miles. transportation in new jersey has an impact on more than just new jersey residents. sandy affected anyone who rides our rail for drive through our state or uses products. i will be working with this committee to rebuild new jersey's transportation infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient in
addition to our infrastructure in at least two cases. flooding from sandy damage the superfund sites, leading to potential release of toxic pollution into the environment. i have a letter on the way to the epa to conduct a thorough investigation of the storm's impact on sites throughout the region and i am also introducing superfund emergency response requests which requires the epa to perform an assessment of superfund sites following any natural disaster and allows congress to appropriate emergency funding to remediator any damage, also require the epa to come of with the plan to better protect sites that are vulnerable to future disasters. leslie to survey the damage, we
have got to remember that superstorm sandy is a sign of things to come. in this changing climate, the reluctance in this committee to look at the changes in global temperature is very difficult to understand. making weather like sandy more and more common. we had the opportunity in this committee to make sure the northeast recovers and rebuilds, i thank my colleague, all of them, who had taken an interest here. the experience that we have learned. >> that legislation you describe is very appropriate and i am looking forward to meeting with details when you get them. -senator whitehouse. >> i will be briefer than my colleagues.
i was here for an earlier hearing and made a similar statements. i don't want to be redundant the hurricanes and the hit rhode island hard, but 9.5 ft crest at fox point at fox point was the highest ever on record, we have 130,000 homes and businesses lose power which is a significant portion of a stake of 1 million people, the southern coast of rhode island was hit hardest, the westerly coasts, you can see how hotels and restaurants along the shore were clobbered by this. coming out of the beach, vehicles from the 1930s and 1940s buried those decades ago to hold the beach impact and for the first time since then all
the tearing up of the beaches have exposed them, like gold cadavers in a horror movie coming out of the beach. a closer look at that, look at the next one, this is the road, atlantic avenue that goes along the beach. the sand from all the disturbance was piled up chest high and we are still literally digging out from that sandwich. the damage went back in the neighborhood behind this, blocks back. it was a considerable blow. mercifully a lot of these are seasonal businesses and the spirit there is fantastic about getting back and getting up and running, local chamber of commerce already taking up local collections to help their business colleagues get back in operation in time for the next summer's season so we hope we will create rhode island's tourists with a wonderful set of historic beaches but it is going to take some help.
the next one. this is further east at carpenter's beach where these houses have gone right into the water. they may not look like very big houses but senator lautenberg spoke about the memories, these are houses these families had two four generations. they are close together, this is a tight community so the emotional blow in addition to the financial and physical one is very considerable. the gentleman in the green jacket is somebody familiar to this committee who used to be a member of it. that is governor link chafee who was with me touring the damage. the lady who owns this house right here that he is looking into told me that when she was a child their house had big lawn and then there was a roadway and then there was a parking lot and
then there was the beach, and the beach was so long that she can remember having to hustle across the because of the hot sand burning her little feet rushing to get to the water but it was a long haul. so there has been an enormous amount of beachfront lots that is a systemic problem in the northeast in particular in rhode island. we also toward narragansetts, rhode island, a wonderful restaurant over the water at the point of the coast guard, it was washed right through, structurally appears to be sound but needs to be a complete rebuild. i know the owner and my guess is they will be in operation for new year's, pretty energetic. there was a lot of damage. the sea wall, the sidewalks. this is big for rhode island because we have tourism generating $2.3 billion. that is the roadside and
economic development -- 10% of state and local revenue is tourism related, 5% of gross state product is tourism related and the fourth largest industry in 2009, supported 60,000 jobs so the economic effect of this is considerable and i am delighted that the chairman has held these hearings because it is important that there be a -- two key points drawn from it. one is that there is a new normal of new extremes and we have to be prepared for it. the infrastructure for the past is no longer adequate for the new normal of new extremes that we are now facing. the reason we have this new normal of new extremes is because of global climate change happening and israel. we have tolerated the deniers for far too long in this body. the public is with us, the science is clear, our national
security establishments, our business communities all know that this is real. there is a rear guard action in this building led by polluters to try to prevent us from taking action on this but we have to face the fact that the deniers are wrong. they are just plain dead wrong. whatever their motivations may be and that is a separate question, they are wrong. we have to deal with that and i think some of the courtesies we have given to one another collegiality really have to yield to the fact that other things being said in the senate and occasionally regrettably in this committee chamber are just plain wrong but sandy shows the price of not being attentive to these facts and i thank you for your leadership. >> i want to thank you for your remarks. i feel as you do that the clock is ticking and hurricane sandy have shown us all what the scientists sitting right in this
room the day i got the gavel told us exactly what would happen and it is all happening. you can close your eyes and cover your ears and put a pillow over your head, but anyone with a heartbeat and a pulse can tell that things are changing and you are right. we are going to do everything we can to -- i do want to make one point. president obama's policies have reduced the carbon in the air and whoa over the next many years. the amazing work that he did without all of us on fuel economy standards and enforcing the clean air act which i want to say to my colleagues who are here and those who are not, if they were here i would address some on this, the colleagues here and others in the senate
chamber stopped many who tried to rollback the clean air act and as it pertained to emissions that were coming from utilities and other polluters. that was critical because he will you wanted to be much more direct, on how we approach it. people have to understand that the progress that we made and we have initial studies that show the progress we have made only because we fought so hard against rolling back what my colleagues tried to do on the senate floor, environmental writer and environmental writer and if they don't see from hurricane sandy the future, if we blithely go a long and i am
very disturbed for our children and grandchildren. i just want to thank you, senator whitehouse, for your amazing leadership. people don't know every time you see me, pushing so hard and i still agree with you and with your determination, rhode island, the people are very determined. they have a great senator and i know we will make more progress. >> thank you. >> could i just add something you and senator whitehouse said? we held up some photographs earlier of the national wildlife refuge we are looking to the west, this used to be a freshwater wetlands, now is largely salt water beach. the bottom part of the picture is delaware bay and just to the south of the atlantic ocean.
there is a road in the top corner that comes west to east and meets the delaware bay. that road is under water quite a bit of time but it used to be you could drive toward the east, delaware bay and you've got to the bay and there was a big parking lot where people could park their cars or boats or trucks or whenever and today there's no parking lot. it is all underwater. looking to the east where the parking lot used to be just to the right at 1:00 you can see what looks like a concrete bunker sticking out of the water. that concrete bunker used to be 500 feet west, used to be 500 feet west and you can't hear me
quoting tongue-in-cheek saying california climatologist who once said something is happening here, just what it isn't exactly clear. .. >> i just want to say that the citizens of new york are so lucky of to have you and senator schumer and others just carrying the weight of superstorm sandy so that we can fix this and do some mitigation so we don't see this again. >> welshing thank you, madam -- welshing thank you, madam
chairwoman, for holding this today. i can't tell you how important it is for the congress to understand the predth and depth of this storm and what impact it's actually had. i also appreciate your kind words and your call in the middle of the storm giving the condolences for the victims and for the families that were suffering. i also want to thank my colleagues who will be appearing later in this hearing, senator schumer will come in, and the rest of our delegation will come in this as well. i just want to thank you for giving us the opportunities to tell the stories of what's happened to our families in new york. just over a month ago, superstorm sandy ravaged the northeast, and it left a path of destruction across the most densely-populated parts of the country. in sandy's wake more than 40 new yorkers died. millions more were left with significant damage to their
homes and neighborhoods, their businesses, their families. now, as new yorkers we've been reading the stories and seeing it on the news, but for the rest of washington, the stories of heartbreak are unimaginable. the most heartbreaking story was when i went to staten island, and we, we met with first responders whose job was to find two children. and what happened in this case was a mother was worried because she'd lost power, and her husband told her to find a different place to stay with the children and urged her to go to brooklyn to see her mother. she took the children in the car, but what happened in staten island is the storm surge was so severe, a 10-foot wave came across the road.
her vehicle stalled, she took her children out of the car. she tried to get them to higher land, and they were taken from her arms. these children were 2 years old and 4 years old. and the mother could do nothing about it because the storm was so strong. now, she's just one story of many of families who lost their lives because of this storm, and i can tell you our mayor and our governor worked so hard to evacuate families. they evacuated families all across new york, and that's one of the reasons why the lost life was as low as it was. but for each of these lives that were lost, there are many more. another story that, um, you know, you think you have a safe place to live. so in westchester county a family had their son at home in his home safe, he had a friend
over to help him weather the storm. a tree crashed on the home, and the two pois were killed -- two boys were killed, 11 and 13. some elderly couples, they just couldn't leave. they couldn't leave in time. an elderly couple in staten island drowned when the rising tides came into their home, and they couldn't escape in time. so these are just a small number of the horrible stories that took the lives of new yorkers. and i've spent a lot of time, as has senator smiler and our delegation, visiting with the families and helping them to begin to piece their lives together. and it's affected communities all across new york. each of the five boroughs were affected; the hudson valley, long island. the devastate just came across a huge area, and we'll hear from more of the delegation from new jersey as well. and so as we begin to rebuild,
folks are looking to washington for how can you help us. and i can tell you we must help these families begin to rebuild. the devastation is so severe. for new york families, lives have been lost and homes are destroyed, businesses are in rubble, and families have been cut off from basic services. one of the big stories across new york was how many families were without electricity for so long, for weeks. some still don't have electricity. and, obviously, as the cold of winter continues to come in, we're worried about their safety. but amid this destruction i've also had the blessing to see what's best about new york. new yorkers are very strong. they're extremely resilient. communities have come together to rebuild. i can't tell you how many friends i saw helping other friends gutting basements,
pulling out destroyed property, having all of their belongings in the front of their homes. but it was these friends and community members that were giving hope to families who had lost everything. now, we've lost -- so far we've had claims for 305,000 homes. they've been seriously damaged or destroyed. more than 265,000 businesses have been impacted. thousands of new yorkers are still homeless. in the immediate aftermath of the storm, we had two million new yorkers lose power, and because some families' homes boilers were destroyed or electrical systems were destroyed, we still have many, many homes that do not have electricity today. our governor has estimated that it'll be about $32.8 billion to begin to rebuild new york, and that's just for new york. that's not including the billions required for new jersey and other states. i'm going to take you through a
couple other places around the state. this is breezy point. as you can see, in this neighborhood the whole neighborhood was destroyed by fire. it was absolutely devastated, even a member of our congressional delegation's home was razed by fire. 111 homes were destroyed in this particular fire and flood, the entire community will have to be rebuilt. since this committee is so relevant for transportation, i want to go through specifically some transportation infrastructure since i think this committee will be most impacted by that request. this is a photo of the south ferry subway station. you can see the water -- it's not very clear, but it's literally consumed the whole subway station. and these are the escalators going down into water.
this next picture is of the hugh kerry tunnel. the whole tunnel was covered up to the top. this is a picture of rail that was fully washed away in westchester, and so this is what it looks like normally, and the water just literally moved the whole track off its bearing. now, one of our major areas of jurisdiction is the army corps of engineers, and they are play a major -- they will play a major role in reconstruction of new york's flood protection system. senator smiler will, i'm sure, talk more about this, but we've already given them a list of prompts they've already -- projects they've authorized or some they've started but not completed. but those are the ones we know we can do they've already been studied, we know they're the most urgent issues.
i just want to conclude by reiterating to my colleagues in the congress how important meeting the feeds of these families and businesses is -- meeting the needs of these families and businesses is. one of the roles of the federal government is to keep people safe, and when lives are so destroyed, when communities lie in rubble, when families don't know how to begin to rebuild, that's really when the federal government makes a difference. and so i just want to urge my colleagues to open their hearts, find goodwill and help restore and rebuild new york. thank you, madam chairwoman. >> senator, let me just say, um, you've given us the most touching testimony. i thank you because you allowed your emotions to come to the surface, you put an amazing
human face on this superstorm, and we have a lot of work to do. and i want to thank you so much. i'm so proud you're on this committee, because now that you -- how many times have you run in four years? has it been? twice four years. so now you have some time to devote full time to this task. and i'm so pleased that you're with us on this committee. i want to -- i'm going to call on senator reid and then senator schumer, and i want to tell them what we did in the opening since we started about a half hour -- no, about an hour or ago. we heard from our colleagues in delaware, in maryland, we heard from senator whitehouse from rhode island, we heard from senator lautenberg and now from senator gillibrand. we had so many people affected. and the purpose of this very important hearing today is to, for history. it's for history, to record this
historic storm. i personally believe it will be a turning point, i hope it will be a turning point here in our fight to address climate change. in a way that protects our people. and so we're going to have this record, you will be part of this record. i look at all of you as my eyes and ears. as this chairman, i did speak with senators gillibrand and schumer during this devastating event, because my heart ached for the people there. i've gone through so many disasters in my state, earthquakes, fires, floods, droughts, everything, and i know it's so difficult to wrap your arms around it. and the one thing senator schumer said to me and has continued to say is how amazing,
what a broad swath this disaster was. so it's hard to wrap your arms around it, but we will. and the second reason for this hearing is, um, for legislative purposes. we're about to take up a water resources bill, and a lot of you know it's been a while since we've had one. senator vitter and i are going to work together on it. he's going to be the new ranking, and he's very encouragerring about this -- encouragerring about this bill. so i think we're going to work across party lines on this water bill. i want to call on senator reid, you each have ten minutes. say what's in your heart, say what you want history to record about this storm. >> thank you, madam chairwoman, for your kind invitation to testify today and for your incredible leadership on this issue. i want to recognize, obviously, my colleague, senator whitehouse, who's been such a powerful force not only dealing with hurricane sandy, but so many other issues in the state of rhode island. later today you'll aerofrom my
colleagues in the house, they, too, have been actively engaged in weathering the storm and then dealing with the after effects. rhode island suffered significant damage. a major disaster was declared in four of our five counties, the south coast of washington county which includes the commitments of wesley, narragansett pounded heavily over several tide cycles. homes were uprooted, dunes were obliterated, sand was driven back into coastal ponds through homes onto local roadways exposing underground pipes, septic tanks and other utilities, and office coast the army corps data system buoy recorded perhaps the largest wave of the feet, 47 feet. the island sustained severe damage, in middletown, rhode island, the rhode island national wildlife refuge received sustained and significant damage. it's isolated today, it can't be
used because the one road, access road, has been obliterated. but despite this damage we know the outcome for our state could have been far worse had the storm followed a slightly different track, and our sympathies remain with the families throughout the northeast so eloquently and passionately described by senator gillibrand and i'm sure also by senator schumer, who have lost loved ones, who have sustained devastating damage, who are still recovering. all of america, our hearts literally go out to them and to their representatives doing so much to help them. in rhode island and elsewhere throughout the region, we are able to limit some of the losses because we had time to prepare. so i want to act among and thank the national -- acknowledge and thank the national weather service which gave several days of advance warning. i also want to commend the rhode island emergency management agency, the rhode island national guard commanded by general kevin mcbride and local emergency planners for their work they did in warning the public and of evacuating areas with the highest risk, and
i also want to commend our utility, national grid, for the planning and the response. they did an extraordinary job with crews already assembled in rhode island before the storm. throughout the response and recovery, the support from the federal government has been exemplary. whenever the state asked for an emergency or disaster declaration, president obama provided -- often within hours of the request. agencies were also quick to respond. within a day of the disaster, secretary ray lahood provided $3 million in emergency relief funding to open roads in the state. as we consider efforts to support the recovery, i would note that this was the third major disaster that has hit rhode island in as many years, reflecting this climate activity which is unusual and i don't think will dissipate. we've had hurricanes in 2011, 2012 and a major flood in 2010. each of these disasters has affected a majority, if not the entire state. the size and frequency of these events coupled with the very
harsh economic and fiscal climate in the state has made it very challenging for rhode island to fund the portion of the recovery that they must fund. and for this reason relief in the form of additional federal funding through disaster cdbg funding and economic development administration grants as well as cost share flexibility for fema assistance have been important to the state in the past and will be again very important for post-sandy recovery. in addition, resources at the department of transportation's emergency relief program will be essential to fully restore the roads damaged in the storm. as we move through recovery and into the long-term mitigation, we should also be mindful of the long-term impacts and resiliency of our coasts and the impacts of sea level rise and global warming. i believe addressing these challenges require the participation of the army corps of engineers, noaa, u.s. geological service, fema and so many other agencies. and i think the chairman has raised the right issue.
this should be a turning point in our efforts to deal with these issues on a comprehensive basis, not on a particularized basis. there are smaller measures, however, that could be taken as well. in particular we should not ignore the army corps' continuing authorities program, the cap program, as part of the response. this includes section 205, flood control and section 206, environmental restoration. for states and commitments with limited resources, these smaller scale projects can be enormously beneficial and effective, particularly after disasters. i appreciate the steps taken in the authorization of the water resources development act to utilize cap authorities. i also want to acknowledge the committee's efforts to increase the cost limitations for some cap authorities. these are positive measures that we should work to expand upon. before i conclude, i want to note the role that previous federal investments have made in
limiting damage. we often overlook prudent steps taken before a storm that pay off significantly. first, the army corps of engineers fox point hurricane barrier. this project was built about 45 years ago to protect the city of providence from storm surges like those that overwhelmed providence in the hurricane of '38 and '54. over the last several years, the army corps has made significant investments and regular operations and maintenance funding. the infusion of resources under the recovery act have helped speed the repair of the barrier. this has been very important in insuring we can continue to operate during major storms, literally without the corps' intervention, we would have felt very vulnerable to the flooding of providence with catastrophic effects. second, on a smaller scale, a new culvert in bristol, rhode island, as part of the project funded by eda and also part of
the emergency supplemental appropriations bill of 2010 helped the town solve damages. otherwise, areas of that town would have been inundated as they are during every storm, some even minor storms. so i hope that we follow through with the work of this committee to authorize and to give direction to not only remediation response, but long-term protection and restoration of our coastal waterers and our coastal areas. again, thank you, chairwoman boxer, for what you've done this morning and what you will do. and once again, i can only say to senator gillibrand, senator schumer, senator menendez, senator lautenberg and others, our prayers are with you and your constituents. you suffered grievously. thank you. >> senator, thank you so much, and we will work with you as we get this water bill to the floor. senator schumer, we are so honored to have you here as well
and to be part of this record. so, please, you're recognized for ten minutes followed by senator menendez. >> thank you. first, madam chair, let me thank you so much for having this hearing, for your caring and compassion. as you mentioned, you were on the phone with us the minute sandy hit, and, you know, i feel so good about several things in this committee, many things. but the fact that you are chair of the committee and you are such a good legislator and so compassionate about these things gives us some hope. the fact that senator vitter has shown an active role in many areas and has been through this makes us feel good about it. and the fact that both senator gillibrand and senator lautenberg are on the committee as well as senator whitehouse, three states affected by the area, gives us a lot of faith and hope in these terrible times. >> and without taking any time away, so stop the clock, i p want you to know that senator
carper also had impacts, and he -- >> yes. >> -- he's on the committee and senator cardin from maryland. so it is a committee that really felt the impact of sandy. >> right. welshing thank you. um, and i just, again, you know, i wake up every morning with a little bit of a knot in my stomach just thinking about what happened. and it's, it is devastating. the first day after the storm i flew in a helicopter with the mayor, with the governor, and you could see the breadth of the damage. it's so wide. there's so much. i mean, the whole -- this island, long island, has seven million people. and many of them live right on the south shore from seagate to the rockaways and breezy point to long beach, all the way up. and so you saw how broad it was. and then for the two weeks til
as recently as monday before we came down here, we're touring the areas. and you see the depth of it. i was on staten island monday and met a leader of the marine corps league trying to help veterans. he pulled me aside, he said i've lost my home, i don't know what to do. he's near tears in his eyes, and this is a tough, grizzled vet. we went to the red hook houses. elderly women, poor women on the 18th floor stuck for two weeks, no elevators, no telephone, no cell phone, no electricity, no food, no water in the sink or the toilet or the shower. i mean, and then you look at, you know, just practical things. you look at manhattan over here, and there are huge numbers -- 20 million square feet of office buildings -- out of commission.
our hospital, one of the leading teaching hospitals in the world, nyu, they never expected water to be 14 feet higher than it's ever been, a billion dollars. they had all their equipment in the basement. that's where they were told to put it. when you do these cat scans and radio tomography and all this stuff, it has to be very balanced, the machine. so they tell them, put it in the basement. all flooded. close to a billion dollars of machinery gonement wow. and i could go on and on and on. but, you know, we need help, and i really want to thank you for having this hearing. the storm was an unfortunate wake-up call not only to new york and our neighboring states, but to the country and even the world about what we must do to protect our region, fortify coastlines from storm surge activity.
simply put, new york has no choice. we must simultaneously adapt and fortify our coastline to protect against future storms. we're a water front city, we're a water front state. people forget that. but we are, basically, the whole southern area of new york is three islands; long island, staten staten island and manhattan. on those three islands are close to ten million people, more than most states. and we're connected by a vast array of 100-year-old tunnels and bridges that were built long before the word climate change, global warming was in anybody's mind. so most of our infrastructure has been built without the necessary flood protections in their design. sandy reminded us of a very stark reality. we can either invest now, or we'll pay later. i would argue that a refusal to
invest earlier in both dealing with some of these specific problems, but also in preventing climate change, we're paying. we're paying later, in a sense. but there'll be many more laters, unfortunately, if we don't do anything. after touring the damage for the past four weeks, we are paying later now, and we'll keep paying later. lower manhattan was blacked out for days, 20 million. brooklyn battery tunnel, longest tunnel, had close to 100 million gallons of water in it. totally flooded from one end to the other. unbelievable. who would have thought it? the southern shore of staten island, the rockaways battered. long beach, 35,000 people, every house flooded. seagate, 8,000 people. every house flooded. the rockaways, 100,000 people, most homes flooded.
the flooding came in not only from the ocean side, but from the bay side. you thought, well, i live five, six blocks from the ocean. in bell harbor it came both ways and met in the middle. and many other places as well. so huge. and to compare it to katrina, katrina lost more lives. we lost too many lives, but not close to katrina. but in other ways it's much more devastating than katrina. right now in new york 305,000 homes are seriously damaged or gone. kirsten showed the pictures of some of them that are just gone by fire because the water systems failed, and the wind -- then the electrical systems got shorted; fire, wind. and the, so 305,000 homes seriously damaged or gone. just in new york up to now, there are going to be more that we'll learn about because the flooding is still there in lots of the basements.
these are low-lying houses. there were 214,000 total homes gone in katrina of the same level of damage. businesses, 265,000 -- this is just new york. bob will talk about, and frank talked about new jersey which has similar levels of damage. in katrina 18,000 businesses. because of the density of the population, it is a much greater economic impact on our region, of course, and on the nation. than otherwise. so despite all this pain we can't entirely fault those who came before us for building this great metropolis without adequate flood protections. the threat was not the same, the technology of flood protection was not what it is today, and at the same time we know that the 105-year floods were rare events, and now they're every few years. so where does that bring us? in the days since sandy, much has been made about what future flood protections new york needs
to adapt to the new 21st century climate. there are a vast array of opinions and ideas from one extreme to the other, and i commend my colleagues in government and academia for having the courage to think outside the box in advocating for the future new york. some preliminary research has suggested a dutch-like system of floodgates in new york harbor as an expensive but feasible alternative. others are pushing for a retreat from the coastline, but a retreat is not just a couple of hundred houses, it's hundreds of thousands of people. that is a huge demographic anthropological, sociological and economic change. you've got to be careful before you just quickly advocate that. to members of this committee, i say we should not be victims of these two choices only which may be extreme. so today i'm recommending to you a comprehensive federal approach to protecting new york's coastline well into the future. it consists of three basic
principles; to protect ourselves in the future, we must accelerate, study and streamline and then build. we can no longer be burdened by rules that were written before massive floods were common and a process that was created before storms of the century happened every ten years. first, we must fast track and build projects that congress has already authorized and that the corps has studied. fortunately, there are a bunch of these projects, and they are noted here. can you see this? should we hold it up a little? these are seven projects already studied and already authorized. some of them were ejected by the local community. long beach, 35,000 people -- none of whom's homes were unaffected -- they were going to build dunes. a small group of homeowners objected in 2005, and they didn't do it. but this proposal is there, the study is there. i've spoken to the elected
officials, thety manager, they're ready to go. all we need is funding, because they're already authorized and studied. and there are other projects as well. the south shore of staten island in rockaway, coney island, fire island and -- [inaudible] so this concept referred to accelerate to construction is what new york needs now. we estimate the amount of money is about 500 to a billion dollars for these seven projects. no red tape, no study because it's been studied, community support in every one of them. we're going to put that in the supplemental bill but, obviously, your committee will review it. why do we need it now? because in some of our most badly-damaged areas you have no protection. a storm, a minor storm could come flood again, so we've got to move quickly. in some places they wanted to build seawalls, some places rock armor, some places dune systems along the coast like midland
beach in staten island where surges over 10 feet came in. and in other coastal areas -- coney island, the rockaways -- some of the projects were partially built, but then there was no funding, and that ended. now, here's the good news. we know from sandy that many places that had engineering protections that the army corps had designed fared much, much better. point lookout, which is right here, did much better than the neighboring areas because they actually had army corps built-in protections. the same, i am told, um, in parts of new jersey. so this works. so we've requested the army corps to accelerate. second, and i'll try to hurry this along, madam chair. second, we have to immediately authorize and fund a comprehensive hurricane protection study of new york harbor and surrounding region. these protections aren't enough.
we need the army corps to start right away and do a study. they did that in new orleans, and then they built a series of levees and barriers and island dunes and seawalls. they did it in houston. that's why a comprehensive study in partnership with the governors of new york, new jersey, port authority, mta and city of new york must commence immediately. we're asking that, we're asking the president to put that in the supplemental legislation he'll introduce early next week. there are many ideas out there. and, third, we must reform the federal flood protection b process that the army corps currently operates. let me be blunt, the process in many places, in many ways is badly broken. projects take years and decades because of mounds of red tape and lack of funding. senator vitter has been very active in this area, and he's been a vocal proponent for a leaner, more efficient army corps. we look to work with you, madam chair, and him to move forward.
so if we can do these three things, we can protect new york from future devastating storms. we can protect new jersey as well, and we work with them on that. and so i hope that the committee will look favorably on our accelerate, study and streamline proposal. i thank the chair. >> i want to mention that everything that you've said is going to be in one way or another part of our water bill. so as kirsten gillibrand, senator gillibrand works with us, we will consult with all of you. because, you know, we don't have any earmarks anymore. you all know that. let me just say for the tenth time, i think that was ridiculous so-called reform. what it means is that we can't -- we, who know the best -- if anything i'm getting out of this listening to all of you, you know every corner and every nook and cranny of where
the problem occurred. but unfortunately, because there's no more earmarks, we have to leave it up to the administration. however, something you said is important. a lot of the projects that haven't gone forward have engineers' reports. many are authorized. and our water bill will be able -- without naming the projects -- to move those forward, which is very important. and in terms of accelerating, we will have, we have a new, um, draft proposal to respond to these extreme weather events, senator schumer, which would enable us to have the corps move very, very quickly. because there's ten different laws that come into play, and in rebuilding and mitigating future storms we just can't afford to have this time lag. so i want to thank you so much. and i want to welcome senators
menendez and senator blumenthal. i want to say that what we're doing here is we're making historic record of this storm. because personally i think it's a turning point in, in our approach to climate change. i hope it is. and i'm going to make sure all of you have books of this record today. that's how important i think it is. you're the eyewitnesses. you represent the people who can't all be, can't have millions of people here testifying. but your testimony is so critical. and you'll be part of this record. we also, using this hearing as a way to finalize our water bill which will be coming forward very early in the next session. senator menendez, welcome. you have ten minutes, and we're very happy that you could take the time to be here. >> well, madam chair, first of
all, thank you for your personal expressions of concerns soon after the storm. i appreciate it as do the people of my state, and thank you for your leadership as well as senator inhofe and other distinguished members of the committee for giving us a forum to explain just how devastating superstorm sandy was to our region and to highlight the help that we need to rebuild. new jersey was at the epicenter of the storm's entry, and the powerful storm surge overwhelmed our state, and the result is damage on a maas i have scale. massive scale. and as someone who has lived in new jersey his entire life, i have never seen the devastation that sandy brought us. the numbers are pretty staggering across the region. in new jersey we lost 39 people's lives to the storm. based on preliminary -- and i
emphasize that -- preliminary fema estimates, there are over 231,000 applications for homes and businesses in new jersey that were damaged, but we certainly expect that the numbers will surge much higher. over half of the state, 2.7 million households, lost power. many for extendedded periods of time, some still today. the storm was the largest mass transit disaster in our nation's history. four out of ten of the nation's transit riders had their commutes disrupted by the storm. many still today. new jersey transit alone had dozens of locomotives and rail cars damaged in the flooding and miles and miles of tracks damaged. the preliminary damage estimate provided by the state is now up to $36.9 billion in damage, and everyone expects that number to rise. those are the numbers.
and in one way they may be a way to quantify the damage, but they fail to paint a picture of what we have seen throughout the state. the level of destruction, the faces of the many thousands of displaced people who find themselves homeless and with basically nothing left from their homes, their possessions, their lifetime keepsakes gone. entire neighborhoods whose several generations of families live in close-knit communities, gone. thousands of decades-old small businesses ruined, their owners unsure they will have the ability or means to rebuild. and we're getting more damage numbers, but the human toll is truly incalculable. the sheer scope of the damage is also difficult to fathom, and i have seen it from the air, from the water, on foot, and the breadth and scope of it -- we've hosted the president and the
vice president and a whole host of cabinet officials, we appreciate the administration's many visits to get a sense of it. but my staff has compiled some pictures here that i'd like to show you to give you a sense. this is the bridge which crosses the bay and crosses brick. as you can see in the picture, the storm surge ripped a gash right through the bridge. amazingly, this bridge can be repaired, but it's obvious in this picture many of the surrounding homes were lost, and part of the highway will need to be rebuilt. on a boat tour of the area, i saw damage for myself and took this picture of a house floating down the river. it's only one of many. this is a shipping container and a large pleasure boat os tossed on -- tossed onto the morgan rail bridge on the north jersey coastline along with tons of debris, a major rail intersection that moves zillion people across -- so many people
across the state. it took a lot of work on new jersey transit which suffered disruptions on every rail line. this is only by way of example one. even today the port authority's path terminal at hoboken is inoperable and will not be back online for some time. this is a live video of what took place on that evening with port authority cameras giving you a sense of the flooding that took place in the terminal. and just gives you a sense of how deep the flooding took place. this is as you go right into the tracks, the level of flooding that was taking place. and those are the path terminals where you, obviously, would be boarding a path train into new york city or along the coast. tens of thousands today still cannot use that terminal.
in addition to transportation damage, many small businesses in new jersey are facing the possibility of going out of business. some were hit with thousands of dollars in lost business while others saw their entire inventory destroy canned. destroyed. interestingly enough, i had a visit from the head of the federally-qualified health centers in our state, there are 20. they suffered themselves because they had a whole period of time in which they were closed, so the revenue stream during this whole period of time has affected them. many of them, of course, were damaged as well. so while the sba has low interest loan programs -- which i have to be honest with you, are pretty close to commercial rates today -- that's not going to help the hardest-hit businesses. these entrepreneurs that fuel our economy has been hit with a one-two punch. first they had the great recession, and now just as we're beginning to recover and they were seeing the light at the end
of the tunnel, that tunnel gets flooded on them with a debilitating storm. so whether it's through flexibility in a community building block grant program or a new disaster recovery block grant or through more flexible sba or other programs, we should provide grants to get small businesses back on their feet. this will not only help the small business owners themselves, it'll keep the workers on the job, bring back tax revenue for local governments to repair, rebuild and restore a sense of normalcy for our commitments. we already were at over 9% unemployment before the storm, and if history teaches us anything from hurricane katrina, it is that unemployment dramatically rose subsequently. that is a big challenge. to economically rebuild new jersey, we also need to rebuild thier is si shore, and that is -- that's a $38 billion tourism economy in our state. and the jersey shore isn't just
about summer homes. that sometimes is, you know, a huge misconception. it has been transformed into year-round communities. the next two slides show the importance of some of what senator schumer was talking about, army corps on our shoreline. stockton college did a study of the army corps' beach engineering programs before and after the storm, and what it found was unambiguous. where the army corps was able to complete a beach-engineered project, the dunes held. and the damage to commitments behind -- to communities behind the projects was either negligible or manageable. so here's a before and after photo at surf city which received beach engineering in 2007 as part of the u.s. army corps long beach island's shore restoration project. you can see that despite the damage to the dune, the dune held. it saved lives, it saved property, it saved money. it made sense.
alternatively, here is another photo of another part of long beach island in the love lady's neighborhood that, unfortunately, did not have similar protections. and it may not appear to be obvious damage, but when the surge came and flooded the homes along the beach, it pushed extraordinary amounts of sand into the neighborhood covering the street and the entire area. and i'd like to submit a copy of stockton college's study for the record. we desperately need, madam chair, to provide the army corps the funding it needs to do not beach replenishment, this is about engineered beaches that save lives, save monies and stop us from repettive loss. our existing defenses, it's almost as if your personally ill and your immune system is low. right now the urgency of now is critical, because if we get a nor'easter based upon what we have suffered after hurricane, superstorm sandy, then the effects would be devastating to
us. our existing defenses from the storms have been greatly weakened, and if a powerful storm hits new jersey again, we could again see damage on an unbelievable scale. and i just want to talk briefly as part of one of the great industries of our state, that fishing industry along the new jersey shore, the reports we've gotten about the damage to commercial fishing industries have been devastating. there are long stretches of the shore where every marina, dock and slip have been destroyed. and the boats to the infrastructure was launched on shore. just one example how the boats were tossed into surrounding buildingsings. they lost over 5,000 feet of dock space including electrical systems, catwalks and gas lines. so the need is enormous, and we need the federal government as a partner to help us rebuild. and we need help not just rebuilding to the status quo, but to make sure that we're stronger so the next storm so that we don't have this type of devastation again.
i want to close with just in the midst of all of this incredible darkness, the resiliency and the light that sometimes comes in the midst of such adversity. there are so many stories. the story of the young woman in hoboken who lived in basement apartment who totally flooded, lost everything, and instead of going ahead and thinking about what is my tomorrow all about, she spent the better part of a week at a shelter helping everybody else, even though she had nothing to go back to. or there's pam bond and jeff who own a candle shop called greetings from hoboken. they lost power along with everybody else for over a week, they were closed. the day they got power back, they opened the store, they made $27 despite the fact that this is the busiest time of the year for them. and despite their own struggles with the store, they wanted to help others. when they heard that the hoboken homeless shelter was out of power and needed candles and found out the shelter had only
one candle to which to light their whole process, pam and jeff donated hundreds of dollars worth of candles to help them out. and now they're raising more funds for the shelter. this is the type of state that our people are ultimately about. so i'm asking each of our colleagues in the congress to stand with us and help new jerseyians recover and rebuild in our time of need just as i personally since i have been here have stood with the people of the gulf coast after hurricane katrina or the people of job lin, missouri -- joplin, missouri, or crop destruction or after a tornado ravaged a community because it's who we are, it's what we do as a country, and it's what truly gives the meaning to the united states of america. thank you, madam -- >> senator, thank you so much. and all of our speakers have been extraordinary, and i know -- and i'm going to, with your permission, include a lot
of these photographs in our record. is that all right with you? okay. >> thank you very much. >> um, and our last senator to speak before we turn to our house colleagues will be senator blumenthal from connecticut. we're so delighted you could be here, senator, go right ahead. >> thank you very much, madam chairman, and i want to thank you and ranking member inhofe for today's hearing. and my colleagues who have stated so eloquently what happened in new york and new jersey, connecticut really shared their fate although the national media coverage may give the impression that connecticut's damage was more a footnote to the main story. in fact, the destruction and damage in connecticut was every bit as real, and the pockets of destruction as pervasive as elsewhere. and i think many of the lessons learned that you've heard here form a pattern that we need to invest now or pay later, that
there are measures we can take now to minimize the damage in the future, and we cannot be penny wise and pound foolish to avowed those measures -- avowed those measures going forward. and the other lesson that i think is striking here is that our efforts have to be complimentary, not competitive. that we are mutually supportive in this effort. i've been asked repeatedly, aren't you in competition with new jersey and new york? the answer is very emphatically, no. we are mutually supportive and reinforcing as we are to responses that have been done to other disasters whether they've been hurricanes or tornadoes or earthquakes around the country. we are united as a united states of america, as senator menendez has said. hurricane sandy's scale and scope of destruction made it one of the largest national
disasters to affect our nation leaving millions of people in the tristate region without homes or electricity and costing tens of billions of dollars in damages to governments, businesses and residents. the sweep and depth of destruction and human impact and financial effect was simply staggering, and our response now has to match its historic magnitude. we need to think big and act big with urgency and vision. right away, short term, we must redouble our efforts to reduce the personal costs and property damage of this storm and ore storms -- other storms, and longer view the path toward enlightened protection and preparation must include infrastructure improvements that may seem massive, but they are well needed and te -- deserved,
such has been done with stanford, connecticut's floodgate repairs, steps to stop flooding on the river and electric security measures such as the establishment of microgrids and increased availability of generators for various public and private facilities, especially for senior citizen housing. in the connecticut disasters -- in connecticut disasters like hurricane sandy are quickly becoming the new normal. the storm is the fourth major disaster for the state of connecticut in the past 19 months. record snowfall in january of last year, 2011, caused buildings to collapse. that spring connecticut incurred destructive floods, especially on the river resulting from melting snow and tropical storm-sized rainfall later in 2011, tropical storm irene and then a highly-unusual october snowstorm caused power outages
that took more than a week to repair. and most recently sandy hit coastal towns with tropical storm force combined with high tides and a full moon, winds and surges producing record high storm levels in the seas immediately surrounding the shores. and inland towns experienced significant, widespread outages. and i want to thank the committee for this personal insight, enabling us to provide some personal history. i was out in the storm, actually experiencing its frosty and force as i visited many of the emergency operation centers and then afterward touring the state by land, by air, by sea, as have my colleagues done, and most recently earlier in this week with the administrator of fema,
mr. fugate, and saw in the immediate aftermath as well as during these storms the personal courage of our emergency responders. the city of millford's fire department that performed 13 water rescues, the national guard supported 73 assistance missions, our governor responding with his excellent leadership, 18 state agencies, the red cross, the united way all coming together including our utility linesmen and repair crews that worked tirelessly to restore critical electric powers to homes and businesses. and yet i want to make clear that utility workers on the ground and in the field were once again heroes, but the utility managers -- management of the overall storm response was regrettably lacking in some regions, although better than last year. it was still inadequate in key
respects and areas. and my many conversations with elected officials around the state indicated clearly that utilities need to better communicate with local authorities on the location and allocation of repair and tree removal crews in their communities. too often municipal leaders and emergency response crews were left in the dark both figuratively and literally. and the utilities, in addition, have to follow more closely the municipal electric utility model and provide at least one electricity restoration crew to each town, working with that town's public works department to remove live wires and allow the reopening of roads. they have to provide additional resources to restore electricity to the most critical areas of every town which local officials know best. i want to compliment president obama, the response of the
federal government was quick and decisive, and personal visits by the secretary of homeland security, janet napolitano, as well as administrator fugate were extremely important in calling attention and gathering information so that the federal government could assist very directly and immediately in this disaster recovery. the total amount of damages is very preliminary but dramatic. public infrastructure needs are in the tens of millions, and these estimates do not even take into account the possible public infrastructure damage that fema may be unable to reimburse due to the lack of flexibility within the hazard mitigation program. we've built our infrastructure to 100-year storm levels. unfortunately, the 100-year storm seems to be happening about every year, and we have to be prepared for this new normal
by hardening critical infrastructure and taking the time and spending the money to conduct the infrastructure assessment that senator schumer spoke about doing. this kind of study and streamlined approach is absolutely what needs to be done. and as we continue to fund infrastructure improvements, the federal government should consider how such improvements may mitigate future water-related damage can and future taxpayer cost for restoration. one point here is that ferc continues to encourager transmission -- encourage line funding, but it should also consider sources for power backup. a 9.2% increase in its budget, the regional transmission
authority in new england should devote some attention to the needs in this area, and i question whether this 9% budget request is justified and deserves certainly serious attention which i believe federal agencies should give it. in response to mounting advocacy -- including my own -- connecticut is invest anything microgrids. a microgrid allows communities to generate electricity from many small sources instead of just a few big ones. and these microgrids offer an antidote to mass blackouts after storms. and i'm hoping that both ferc and iso new england can be positive and active partners in the promotion of microgrids. generators for senior citizen facilities have to be considered. i visited a number, one in preston, encountered a similar problem in franklin,
connecticut. these kinds of microgrid and electricity restoration efforts are necessary to meet the needs of our vulnerable population. and, again, ferc should work with utilities to provide incentives and even mandates for bulk purchase of mobile generators that could be transported to these facilities on an on-needed basis for permanent, as well as for permanent generators in other residential facilities. i have more that i could say. i ask that my full testimony be entered into the record. but finally, let me just say stanford offers an example of what i think you've heard from a number of my colleagues about the use of hurricane barriers. in stanford a 17-foot barrier which blocked an 11-foot storm surge from sandy was built in 1969 and helped prevent about $25 million in damage to businesses and homes during
sandy. stanford is waiting for federal funneling of less than a -- funding of less than a million dollars to replace the barrier's pumps that had to be operated manually during the storm, an investment of less than a million dollars would insure saving us $25 million in avowedded recovery -- avoided costs. the army corps of engineers should and must take an increased role in mitigation efforts, especially along the river where there's been repeated flooding as a result of these past storms and review and responsibility be begins with the army corps of engineers, but congress can help support and move forward this vital work. flood studies will help identify how the state can be better prepared and equipped for these storm surges along the 5-mile river, in fairfield and new haven counties, a variety of places around the state of connecticut where we know
prevention works. we've seen it firsthand, and the investment now will a void payment later -- >> senator, i hate to rush you through, but i've got all these house members -- >> and i just want to finish by thanking you, madam chairman. >> absolutely. >> and i hope that we can work together. >> we will. >> thank you. >> we will. and, you know, as you leave, senator, i just want to tell the house members, the purpose of this hearing today is to make a historic record of the storm. we can't have all your constituents here. you are their representatives. and so we're going to put together a record of this hearing that we will actually give to each of you who made this record. and my own belief is it will, i hope and i pray, will be a turning point in how we look at climate change and that we begin
to make the necessary improvements that all the senators and senator blumenthal was very specific showing one example of where a million dollars can save $20 million plus. what is the point of us not listening to that? and as we work on a water bill -- and some of you are on the house counterpart committees -- we're going to address all of these issues as best we can, as early as we can next year. so here's where we are. if i could thank senator blumenthal, i know you have other meetings, and ask the order in which we're going to hear from people considering who's in the room, so this is what we're going to do. pallone, bishop, cicilline -- say it for me, cicilline? that's right? representative holt, representative harris. so if you could just all come on up here, we'll go in that order. now, i've given you each two minutes, but i will have a very
soft gavel til you reach three. so if you're -- so, you know, as someone who spent ten years in the house, i learned to speak in one minute, remember? i remember those days. when i got to the senate, people -- the press came up to me one day and said, you've changed, you're so calm. i said, well, in the house i had to get to the end of my speech and just have one minute to express myself. here i can work my way up to the ending. so i know it's a great skill, but you're all really good at it. so we'll start off with representative pallone. >> thank you, chairman, and thanks for having this hearing and inviting us from the house. my district was very hard hit by the storm, and i really wanted to just focus on a number of critical issues that have come to light that i think that we must address as we move forward. i'm not going to talk so much about what happened, but what we need to do over the next few months and year. first, i wanted to say there is a great need for more temporary housing alternatives.
i have thousands of people that have lost their homes, and they can't -- they have to actually reconstruct or rebuild their home. it's not just damage. and we have now some temporary housing that's being set up at fort monmouth which is a closed army base, but we really need trailers and mobile homes. many of the mayors have requested those and are willing to accommodate them. they haven't arrived yet, but i want to mention that that's a priority. additionally, we need fema to provide emergency funds to the army corps of engineers so they can replace dunes and replenish beaches to protect the damaged areas from future storms. you heard from my two predecessor, my previous senators, blumenthal and menendez, where there was a dune, where there was a seawall, where there were replenished beaches, the damage was less. those places need to be put back again. i've also requested that fema waive the 25% match for repair
work. many municipalities in my district do not have the resources to contribute. i have some towns that have less than a thousand families, and they can't meet that 25% match. it's also create critical for funding to be made available for homeowners to pursue buyouts or grants to raze their homes in areas that flood frequently. we have some areas which have flooded for, you know, three times now, and basically a buyout would make sense rather than trying to put the homes back again. now, the secretary of commerce has declared a fishery disaster due to the impact of sandy, but that should include both commercial and recreational fishing communities. charter boat operator, marinas, tackle and bait stores and other fishery-related businesses have lost their equipment, infrastructure and expected revenues. so congress must insure funds are allocated for fishery disaster assistance so these individuals and businesses can receive relief. i met with a fema administrator
fugate, and i noted when i met him that small business failures, he says small business failure rates after a major disaster can exceed 70%, so i believe we must work to avowed this by expanding cdbg grants by assisting small businesses facing damage from the storm, and i'd also like to see cdbg grants for homeowners whose insurance did not provide enough funding to rebuild. something i'm asking you to look into. finally, obviously, we have to continue to work in a bipartisan manner. i'd like to see a package in the lame duck rather than wait to the new session, and i know that you're going to work with us to try to accomplish -- >> yes. and many of the states, obviously, deal with the supplemental. and i will, of course, work with my colleagues on appropriations. thank you very much, representative pallone. >> thank you. >> and then as colleagues leave the table, my new arrivals, please, take their spot. we'll move ahead. um, we're making a record here, a record of sandy.
representative -- [inaudible] thank you for being here. >> thank you, chairman boxer. just for the record, i'm representative langevin. >> i know. sorry. >> thank you for the opportunity, chairman boxer, to testify here today, and i want to thank you for having me here today to provide a local perspective on hurricane sandy. i'm pleased to be here with my colleagues as well as we talk about the impacts to rhode island. hurricane sandy was, obviously, a devastating storm for much of the northeast, as we all know, with some portions of the region still recovering and others that are forever changed. as rhode islanders know all too well, the so-called 100-year storms are becoming more frequent, providing a stark reminder that climate change is occurring whether we like it or not. while i sincerely hope that superstorms like sandy are not becoming the norm, it is
incumbent upon all of us to take action to mitigate future vulnerabilities. i must say that both before, during and after hurricane sandy our first responders performed above and beyond our expectations and utilities and other stakeholders across rhode island were laudable in their preparation and responses to sandy. however, being prepared means more than just having emergency response procedures in place. as we restore our infrastructure, we must also build strong coastal ecosystems that help protect our communities from storm surges and flooding, and i certainly echo those requests outlined by senators reed and whitehouse in their testimony when they spoke earlier today. our communities have shown tremendous strength and generosity in the wake of sandy. our federal and state agencies were well prepared, organized and responsive, but a full recovery in rhode island and elsewhere will require continued application of federal resources
in the current fiscal year and beyond as well as prudent and careful planning in order to meet the needs of our commitments. in that regard, chairman boxer, i look forward to working with this committee to help families and businesses in rhode island and the rest of the region affected by sandy to recover and rebuild in the wake of this disaster. thank you again for the opportunity, and i look forward to again working with the committee. >> yes. and we look forward to working with you. and we're going to hear from representatives bishop, cicilline, holt, harris, and -- [inaudible] in that order. so, representative bishop. >> madam chair, thank you very much for inviting myself and my colleagues from the house to testify before your committee today, and i want to start with a comment that you just made with respect to the imperative that we move a water reauthorization bill as quickly as possible, because i believe that many of the challenges facing the 1st district of new york -- which i represent -- can
and would be appropriately addressed in a new water authorization bill. and i hope the house can meet you halfway in approving a bill as early as possible in the new congress. um, as your committee moves to consider measures to help affected states deal with the after math of such a massive storm as sandy, i would like to offer the following suggestions to ease the burden on our states and local government cans. first, we should waive the local cost share for corps projects that were adversely impacted by hurricane sandy. in the recent past, congress has authorized corps projects in response to significant national or regional challenges. in my view, the challenges facing our communities warrant such a change today. similar to the suggestion i offered when the house considered the recovery act in 2009. i will continue to advocate for a limited and appropriate cost-share waiver as the ranking member of the water resources and environment subcommittee in the house. we should authorize a renewed commitment and investment in hurricane and storm damage
reduction projects that provide invaluable storm protection for families of all socioeconomic levels in my district. in this light i applaud the first steps taken by this committee and you, madam chair, and i understand you're working very closely with incoming ranking member vitter in a draft water resources development act. in addition, we must insure funding is wisely allocated to storm damage reduction solutions that have demonstrated successes such as the dunes in the west hampton beach area of my district and protect the inner bay ecology along the south shore. finally, we should provide robust funding for the hazard mitigation grant program to insure that cost effective projects that will reduce or eliminate the losses from future disasters are able to move forward with state and local support. while providing federal support for recovery costs in affected areas is absolutely critical, a strong hazard mitigation grant program will save money in the long term and make our communities more resilient. i look forward to working with
my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to expedite these and other measures to help rebuild and restore our commitments in a fair and equitable manner, and i yield back. thank you very much. >> thank you, congressman, and it was a pleasure to work with you on the highway bill, and i look forward to keeping that progress going on with water. to our colleagues just walking in now, i want to welcome you all here. so you can see, we don't have a large enough table, but the next -- i think it was representative grimm who came in next, i'm not sure. please, take a seat. and we're going to now go sort of in the order of arrival. but what i want to say here is we are making a permanent record of what happened, and you're the eyewitnesses really, telling us the stories. and also giving us ideas, as you have done, for what we should put in our water bill. and i'm very pleased that you all took time. i know you're all very busy and have lots of places to be.
so although i gave you two minutes, i'm going to add another minute on because i know even though you're used to speaking in one minute moments, i think this, i think three minutes would be what you need. so we're going to proceed, representative cicilline, followed by representative holt. >> thank you, chairman boxer, for this opportunity to appear before you today with my colleagues. i want to begin by recognizing the incredible strength and resilience of those whose lives were affected by this storm, especially along the rhode island coast lyes where thrrd -- coastline. i want to applaud the efforts of our first responders, the national guard and emergency management agency, our highway employees, national grid and other utility providers and the many others that have been working relentlessly in the recovery effort. i also want to recognize the collaboration that was demonstrated across every level of government, in particular the leadership of our governor, lincoln chafee, and our mayors and town administrators.
every step of the way we had the assistance of the federal government helping inform, prepare and assist rhode islanders. now congress has the responsibility to insure that our communities can rebuild as quickly and effectively as possible, and we need to act expeditiously in providing additional disaster relief. at the same time, i think this is an appropriate moment to assess potential reforms, and i thank you for convening this hearing to address some of these issues. and there are two issues that i heard most frequently during both hurricane sandy as well as hurricane irene which i'd like to bring to your attention. first is from small business owners, particularly those from economically-challenged neighborhoods and small, individually-operated shops and businesses with just one or two or three employees. these small businesses face a particular set of challenges that often preclude them from taking advantage of sba disaster loans even with reduced interest rates. and i invite this committee, and i will do the same on our side as a member of the house small
business community, to assess the possibility of providing direct financial assistance to these truly disadvantaged small business other thans either through grants or a hybrid of up-front grants followed by super low interest loans. we can establish eligibility criteria and accounting mechanisms, but we need to attempt to get targeted relief funds to those small businesses that sometimes face insurmountable hurdles following a disaster. ..
>> so i thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, look forward to working with you and other members of this committee as we continue to address these issues. >> thank you. i think you underscored a lot of the points that were made. we can rebuild the way it was built before. that's just the way it is. you've got to prevent the damage in the future, or -- i had a similar thing in an earthquake with our bridge failed, bridge. it was horrible. just broke right off. there was a big debate on the floor of the senate that it should be rebuilt the way it was or making improvements. clearly it was the approach that
failed to the bridge and we prevailed, it was a big argument. it shouldn't have been an argument. it doesn't make sense to rebuild it the way it was built. we now know it failed. so when we, all these things that you were saying to me today are very important. and it's a pleasure to all of you here and call on representative holt. >> i thank the chair for holding these hearings and inviting us. and i thank and appreciate the work of fema under director fugate and all the workers who came from all over new jersey and all over the united states to protect and assist the many people in new jersey affected by the strumpet and i joined representatives and others what they are requesting. but the point i want to make is today we must consider more than just repairing the damage from sandy but in recent years we have experienced in various parts of new jersey unprecedented floods, winds,
rains, tidal surges. not just katrina, irene, floyd, sandy. but again and again. the next storm will be different from sandy, only in detail. these unprecedented storms are the new normal. and deniers of climate change notwithstanding, we are deluding ourselves if we think we are not experiencing climate change. we must not simply replace the structure, damage by sandy. we've got to build resilient infrastructure to withstand tomorrow's superstars. we must build for the new normal. that means significant investment power engineering and transportation engineering and rail engineering and wireless engineering, and shoreline engineering, and river, flood control and planning and residential building and other efforts to strengthen our infrastructure. all in addition taking as
aggressive steps as we can to bring climate change under control as best we can. so just as strengthening levees was part of the emergency supplemental spending for katrina, so infrastructure strengthening should be part of the response to sandy. i can't emphasize this too strongly. i am sure that the chair understands this, and again, i thank you for giving us this time. >> thank you so much, congressman. and we will turn to representative harris followed by castro, angle. that will be our group. so please proceed. >> thank you very much, chairman boxer, for the opportunity provide brief testimony on the impact of hurricanes standing on every i represent. first congressional district of there'll includes all of maryland's eastern shore, much of it only a few feet above sea level.
somerset and particularly the communities of smith, marion, fairmont, princes and were particularly hard hit with flood, wind and rain damage from hurricane sandy. of these communities retain you to cover our thoughts and prayers go out is what your neighbors of new york, new jersey, delaware, connecticut, rhode island and other areas where today's heartfelt testimony showed just how lives and businesses of families were disrupted as they dealt with this massive property laws. on october 31 i toured the sites with the governor o'malley, and fema and local officials to see first in the series impacts of the super stronger while i reinforce the idea, the army corps really protected ocean city from major damage. it was good to see because that's an investment we've made over the years. i was nonetheless stunned to see the devastation to some of our communities like crisfield to see what they suffered. madam chairman, foods after the event last week all of americans
watched thousands of americans eating thanksgiving dinner in shelter. never to return to their homes. and that's something we'll live with and we will deal with. as centers gillibrand ana menendez suggested, the worst of nature turns out the best of people. and it's so encouraging to see citizens, who now spends his days organizing hundreds of volunteers, coordinating them, helping their neighbors recover. last week i posted a town hall meeting with over 1000 residents from impacted communities and i was very encouraged by the federal and state coordinated response efforts. but one message i heard loud and clear is that you citizens still have an understanding of a different responsibilities of federal, state and local governments as they respond to disaster and the recovery. which does underscore the need for all levels of government to be prepared so these catastrophes in future ensuring that scarce resources can always be made payable to those parts
of our community most in need of assistance. madam chairman, i want to thank you for this important hearing. >> i want to thank you very much. and again, you are the eyes and ears. we can't sit in the room. so thank you very much. and now we will turn to representative past growth. >> banks are putting us together today. and listening. this was an epic storm and needs an epic response but i hope it does not get caught up in the debates that we're having both the house and the senate, this fiscal cliff we all read about and talk about. because that would be very dangerous to the people, not only a state of new jersey but the other states in the metropolitan area. the tri-state area. we are working with members of the ways and means committee, as a member myself, to draft
legislation modeled after other epic storms which we bring some tax relief. allowing businessebusinesse s to expense the cost of disaster recovery is critical when we see him and businesses have been wiped out. helping rebuild damaged low income houses and providing health and finance, the task of rebuilding infrastructure. what we have now in fema is not good enough for the loss in small businesses. it just isn't. we don't need low interest loans. what we need is a new addressing of the major problems. small businesses are not satisfied with low interest loans at this point. is beyond the. it needs to be responded to, and i hope this legislation will do that. you take a look at the ninth congressional district. two towns were wiped out when the hackensack river rose above
its berm your the police department, there isn't any. and trying to get federal funding, matching funding to bringing trailers to that town and i think -- the mayor had his house why do. almost lost his wife. this is a tragedy beyond words. and certainly my words. it will be in the hands of the federal government, and they barred partisan groups like the one before this committee today to step in and help rebuild their this is critical. we need to renew our grid. and senator, this is are important it's not only important for new jersey and the metropolitan area, but the great is not doing what it's supposed to. it is a homeland security issue. no question about it. we have substations wiped out because they are not placed in the right place, which puts everybody out of power in the
immediate area. these substations have been compromised not only in new jersey but in other across the union. so this is a homeland security issue, whether it's man-made or god made come it doesn't matter. i will conclude by saying to you, center, and you know that the what i'm talking about, we cannot catch this up in a discussion that we're having in terms of responding to the economic plight of this country. we cannot in less we will miss out and have a million excuses. thank you very much for having this. >> i couldn't agree with you more. we've had republicans before us, democrats before us. we can't come together and help the people who were so harmed, and we get this caught up in her of the disputes and shame on us. and people will watch it, will see it, can't do that. there's certain things that a wave of politics.
this super storm is one of those things that is way above. spent it wasn't an easy on katrina be the. the a lot of debates about that and when we look back at it, i hope some of the folks who were obstacles are ashamed of the behavior. i mean, these people had nothing as well. we can't rise up above our political ideologies, we don't belong to. >> i think we're going to. i feel confident of that, and i ask unanimous consent to end into the record statements by senator mikulski and representative peter king, rosa delauro, john brennan and frank. i'm happy with been joined by representative smith, and we will in this order continue, and i want to say for those who just came, we are making a record, sort of an eyewitness account of what happened. and we are also using your testimony as way to guide us. so the order now is engel,
grimm, courtney. all right? so congressman dingell, the floor is yours. >> thank you, madam chair tiffany's it's nice to see graduates from house as well innocent. thank you for having us spent idle if i graduated. i left. >> as you know, i've represent new york's 17th congressional district which includes parts of the bronx as well as rest just are just north of new york city. sandy is the largest tropical system ever recorded in the atlantic. the winds stretched 1100 miles in two in and she was brutal from the very beginning. sandy killed at least 69 people in the caribbean, including 54 in haiti and 11 into the. she crashed ashore in the united states. at the time to spend sandy had taken 131 american lives which included 53 new yorkers. inches the nukes the region, madam chairman, which you know
well, 305,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, 2.4 million residents lost power. a transit system carried more than 8 million daily riders was forced to shut them. 37 health care facilities rising more than 6000 patients were forced to evacuate. 2000 miles of roads were damaged and 11 tunnels were flooded. the total economic losses from sandy have climbed up over 70 billion. this is still a community. the second most expensive storm in u.s. history, after hurricane katrina. in the face of unimaginable destruction, but inspiring and harding is deceased only citizens from nearby neighborhoods and across the country pitching in with relief efforts. fema's work has been admire about. more than two under 31,000 new yorkers have contacted fema, and nearly 680 million assistance have been approved. department of agriculture food and nutrition service distributed 1.1 million pounds
of household usda food. obviously, as my colleagues have said and as you've said, much more needs to be done. we must provide much more recovery funding to the region. in 2005 we approved to the gulf states recover from effect of hurricane katrina. similar efforts must be made for those impacted by syndicate in addition to recover from past destruction must also look to prepare for the future. we're likely to experience more storms of sandy's magnitude and we are not ready. sadly, we're not ready. to adequately prepare, first of all we must build a better grade, a storm the site of sandy would -- but that's not the grid we have. we still depend on 20th century technology to power a 21st century economy. we must also buried power lines. just 80% of u.s.